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The Longest 16 hours ever. AKA My boys’ first sleepover…

By some miracle, my kids have managed to make it to the ripe old ages of ten and twelve without me being subjected to a sleepover.

Last night that streak ended…and so did my sanity.

For the last three years, my kids have “organized” sleepovers that have always managed to fall-through. Usually in the form that my child and the other children made all of these plans, but forgot one crucial component: forgot to ask their parents! Sometimes I was asked and the other mother wasn’t and sometimes it was the other way around. So, last week when I was asked if two Hooligans from a few blocks away could come stay the night the first night of Christmas break, I said, “Sure.” Never in my wildest dreams thinking it would happen.

Oh, I was wrong.  IT happened.

Now, before I give you all the dirty details, I will openly admit that I know that overall this was VERY MILD compared to what some people endure, but for me and my first experience, I was ready to pull out my hair–not not just the grey ones.

Here’s a rundown of events:

5 pm–Hooligans arrive. I start making pizza.

5:20–Hooligan #1 poops something the size of a baby in our toilet. This hooligan will forevermore be referred to as Pooper.

5:25–Eddie informs me that Pooper is ticked because Henry and Hooligan 2 commented on the size of Pooper’s deposit. Pooper threatened to go home. (Sounds bad, but I would have been fine with that.) I talked to the boys about remembering we’ve all been constipated before. It’ll be OK, let it go.  (Clearly this kid let one go.)

5:30–kids leave-relief floods me…

5:37–kids return with a TV… they take it upstairs to Eddie’s room…

5:45–pizza cut and served

5:50–kids take their pizza and several cans of pop upstairs. My jaw drops and steam starts spiraling out of my ears. My kids KNOW better than to take food upstairs. We eat at the table only. Taking a deep breath, I mentally dislodge the stick from my backside. This isn’t the end of the world. Besides, it might be better they eat upstairs where I don’t have to hear them belching and smacking their food. It’ll be OK. This just gives me the perfect excuse to make Eddie clean his room top to bottom tomorrow.

7–kids come ask if they can use the big TV in the living room. I surrender the remote and go make myself useful in the kitchen, then decide to go to my room.

8–they start rummaging through all of the DVDs in the closet with such great noise I’m sure our closet neighbor heard…and they aren’t that close. I peek my head out to see how bed the mess is and there is a trail of DVDs from the hall closet, across the living room, to the other hall, up the stairs and to Henry’s room. I swung open the door and declared, the DVD-brick road needs to be cleaned up NOW.

8-1:10–kids are up and down, up and down, up and down the stairs. They have decided to watch their DVDs upstairs but keep coming downstairs for more cans of pop… I can’t say for sure, but I think they each had on average five cans. Note to self: you didn’t hide them well enough, Rose!

1:10–I have had enough and I hear someone rooting around in the pantry. I get out of bed and put a stop to it. “But Mom, Pooper’s STARVING,” says Eddie. Gritting my teeth, I tell them, “I’ll make a big breakfast in the morning. It’s after 1 am. It’s time to be sleeping. No more food and no more pop. Go to bed.” I followed them upstairs and told all four of them it was time for bed.  Do you think they went to bed? NO!!! They giggled, stomped, talked loud, thundered up and down the stairs until 4 am. At which point I went in there and about lost it. They’d all written all over each others faces with colored Shapries. I was horrified to find that Henry had a strong similarity to Satan. Telling them all in as calm of a voice as possible that it was time for them to GET SOME SLEEP then I went back to bed as if that was actually going to happen.

4:30–I hear what can only be the front door. I bolt out of bed and swing my door open in time to realize Pooper has decided he’s had enough of me being bossy–he’s going home. Oh and Hooligan 2 is going with him and since he brought his TV, Playstation, and enough clothes to stay for a week my kids are going to help him carry his crap home. I said no. It’s dark out there. Nobody leaves until the sun is up. Fortunately they didn’t argue. But decided they wanted to go jump on the trampoline…with flashlights. I quickly found a movie for them to watch on Netflix, parked them on the sofa with popcorn and told them not to get their butts up until the sun was up.

5:55-ish, Eddie comes to knock on my door. Pooper called his mom and said he had her permission to walk home.

6:15–I walk out to find my boys and the one remaining Hooligan are passed out on the sofa.

9–kids wake up, Hooligan doesn’t like the cereal I have and decides to go home.

Sleepover OVER.  And looking around at what could only be described as tornadic activity that has swept through my kitchen, dining room and living room there will NEVER be another sleepover again. My kids, however, don’t realize this because they’re already trying to plan another and I hate to say it, but that won’t be happening!

 

As I said, I know others have had it worse, so here’s my QUESTION: Please, oh, please, tell us all about your sleepover from hell. I really want to hear someone else’s experience. Misery loves company, you know.

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Tenzi!

This past July I went on a small vacation to Branson, Missouri to see a handful of live shows and most importantly walk through the craft malls because I, Rose Gordon, am a Craft Mall Junkie. So much so, I actually have to set myself on a timer when I go in one so I make sure to keep walking. Even if I leave without buying anything, I am the sort who has to look at every single booth and think to myself, “Would I use/decorate/love/hate that?”

Branson has four, maybe five of these malls–all so large you could seriously spend half the day in each. I did not. I was a good girl. I kept moving to “beat the clock” and I even did one better by bringing along cash, knowing that when my cash was gone, I was done. (Yes, I went so far as to leave my debit card securely locked away at a different location so I wouldn’t be tempted.)

Final hour in Branson, I had done sooooo good. I hadn’t lingered too long in any single store and I still had money! I was on a roll!

Then, I saw it…

Tenzi. 

In every store I’d gone in–even ones that weren’t craft malls–I kept seeing these plastic square tubes full of colored dice. The first time or two I didn’t really pay much attention, but after seeing it for about the 10th time, I thought “Wow, these people sure do like their dice. Maybe this is like Vegas for the family oriented people.”

“Want to play?”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. “Play what?”

“Tenzi,” said the lady standing behind the counter. She pushed ten red dice at me. “Pick ’em up and roll ’em.”

Obediently, I complied.

“Get your sixes,” she said.

So I did.

“I want to play,” said this teenage girl.

The lady pushed her a set of ten dice and the girl took off rolling and separating them.

“What now?” I asked hesitantly. There’s nothing worse than be the person who doesn’t know what’s going on while everyone else does.

“Keep rolling,” the older lady said, rolling her color and moving her sixes aside.

“I just keep rolling and pulling out the sixes?” I asked, totally confused.

“Yes,” the older lady said at the same time as the little teeny-bopper shouts “TENZI!!!” right in my ear.

I looked over at her dice and all ten showed the number six. Her face showed a smug expression.

“Sorry,” her mom said, poking her head around the side of her. “My kids played all night last night.”

I nodded slowly.

“It’s not really fair that I beat two old ladies,” the girl said.

Her offhanded response struck a nerve. I’m not old! I might be 31, but I’m not old! “All right, girl,” I said in a voice I barely recognized as my own. “Game on.” I pushed my hair behind my ear then grabbed my dice.

The girl started giggling and it sounded like she said something akin to “Yeah right.” She picked up her dice. “Shall I go easy on you and start back at sixes?” Her mocking tone stoked my competitive fire, but let me know that I didn’t fully understand the rules!

I looked at the older woman who’d first trapped me into playing this. “How do we play?”

“First round, everyone starts out looking for sixes. The first person to get all of their dice to read six, they say, ‘Tenzi’ and the round is over. The next round whoever had their sixes starts working on their fives and everyone else continues to roll of sixes. There is only one winner per round…”

“I think I have it.” I nodded to the girl who was staring at me like I was a moron. “GO!” I tossed down my dice and started frantically looking for sixes. I scooped up the remaining numbers and rolled again, and again, and again, each time moving aside my sixes. “Tenzi!” I hollered, trying not to laugh at the shocked look on the girl’s face. She’d had nine fives and was trying to roll her tenth.

She grabbed her dice. “GO!”

The next six minutes were the most satisfying six minutes of my entire trip as I trounced a sixteen year old girl in a game that solely consists of rolling dice. I know, I know, it was immature of me to challenge someone to a game. But let me tell you, there is an inexplicable euphoric feeling at whooping the butt of a cocky teenager–even if it is just in rolling dice. (Even her mom seemed to be reveling in the moment!)

I am so immature in fact that I whistled all the way to the checkout with a my very own package of multicolored dice.

Here’s what it looks like:

I’ve been told you can find it in certain toy stores or I found it on Amazon. It’s super easy to play and my kids LOVE it. (In fact, they beg to play it.) You can play it at the table, on the floor, coffee table, etc. Anywhere with a flat surface. I mentioned the easiest way to play. But someone has written a book with 77 Ways to Play.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What are your favorite boardgames?
  2. Have you ever stooped to my level to act immature in order to prove your point? (Come on now, I know some of you have!)

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes, Randomness, Save me from myself!, Why Me?!

Little annoyances!

My current keyboard has a little flaw, if you will. The piece of plastic that holds the :; key on top of the rubber that touches the microchip is broken and that blasted little square keeps popping up or changing positions. It wouldn’t be an issue BUT when I learned to type I was always instructed to always keep your fingers on your “home row” and well this dratted key is part of the home row so it feels really awkward. What’s funny is, you don’t realize how much you move the fingers that aren’t pressing keys until you have a loose key square and you keep inadvertently knocking the thing out of place!!

Then, every so often, the thing pops up so much you MUST fix it, which results in:

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Yes, that’s how long I had to hold it to get it to snap back into place.

Yet, I LOVE this laptop. I bought it in 2012 after my son Eddie who was six at the time accidentally dropped its predecessor on the steps of a hotel on our trip to Gettysburg. I myself have dropped this ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; (see did, it again) particular computer myself a short distance and scuffed up the the metal ;;;; edge right where my wrists rest! No, it doesn’t feel good–and I’ve even tried “filing” ;;;;; it down, but it didn’t make a huge difference. This laptop has been with me all sorts of places: the food court where I met a pimp who offered me a job, it’s flown with me to Phoenix, New Orleans, Dallas, Kansas City; has attended;;; countless lunch dates with John & Carolina, Amelia and Elijah, Henry and Laura, Wes and Allison, Jack and Ella, Gray and Michaela, and Sebastian and Belle at Panera ;;;;;;;. (The majority of the other books were written after I stopped going to Panera to write.);;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

This laptop and I have a history together and I cannot end the relationship–though I probably should. I will say that because the key issue annoys the daylights out of me, I don’t hardly use it for excessive typing anymore, but I still cannot bear to let it go.

QUESTION: Do you have something you SHOULD throw away but just cannot bring yourself to let it go because of your sentimental attachment? Or do you say “It’s just stuff” and give it the old heave-ho?

(By the way, I do have another computer that I use regularly to get things done and while I am sentimentally attached, I am overwhelmed at the idea of trying to move all the files and info from this computer to another. So that has helped me to hang onto it, too. 😀 )

 

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Long time, no blog

For those of you who don’t know (or remember me :-p ) my name is Rose Gordon and once upon a time I wrote historical romance–mostly Regency-era.

Here’s a few visuals…

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Me at RT in Chicago 5 *gulp* years ago.

 

 

And when I wasn’t slaving away to write about unsuspecting fellows and their over-scandalous counterparts, I was on here blogging about nonsense like…

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Jezzie–the mannequin head my family and I pass around.

 

(The time I fell through the attic on Thanksgiving.)

 

(Crazy stuff I’ve found–and maybe bought…–at the fair or craft mall.)

I also shared on here about my failed attempts at crafts:

Held crazy votes:

 

Or shared stories about my kids:

(100 “signed by author” stickers, plus autograph for 100th day of school; and my kids fighting over a stuffed enema…)

So many of you supported me when I raised $10,000 for MS and looked like an idiot while doing it!

Let me share some seriously scandalous “swag” I’ve picked up at different conventions:

 

I had so much fun writing over 600 blog posts whether they were stories about the craziness in which I live, a man’s POV of my books, hosting contests and so much more. I have missed out on so much by not posting very consistently for the past three years. A fact I wish I could change–but some things aren’t things you post. Or at least not things *I* could ever post.

Many don’t know that about 3.5 years ago my world tilted on its axis when the happily-ever-after I believed I was living fell apart. I have gone through fire after fire since and in my own opinion, I think I’ve emerged a much different, and perhaps stronger person.

Am I ready to write romance novels again? No. Maybe one day, but not today.

Am I ready to start blogging about the craziness that I now face with boys who are 10 and 12 and have entered into their first year in public school? Oh, absolutely. (Funny sidetrack: on Halloween my kids left for the school bus 10 minutes earlier than they needed to. Why? Because they could and I was in the shower and couldn’t tell them, “Oh, hell no.” When I got out of the shower, I noticed I had received about 5 texts from my kids. “Mom, we’ve been down here for 5 minutes and haven’t seen a single bus. I don’t think they’re having school today. You know, Halloween is a holiday.” Oh, my poor kids who’ve always been in a church school or heaven help me homeschooled for an overwhelming year. I wrote back: “Wait for the bus. You left 10 minutes early. The bus doesn’t even get there until 7:40 and you usually leave at 7:30. Writing me at 7:25 to tell me you haven’t seen the bus and you think there’s no school in observance of Halloween will be posted to Facebook if you two argue when you get home tonight. 😀 Love ya!”)

So, if you’re up to following my blog to follow more about me and my shenanigans, my crazy parenting, unusual finds, ridiculous signs, craft fails, wild tales and other craziness where truth is stranger than fiction, than please stay tuned and subscribed. (After all, it IS called Rose Unscripted.)

If you followed my blog as a means to keep up with my writing progress and being informed of new books only, I will by no means be disappointed if you’d like to unsubscribe.

Again, I want to thank you all. Whether you’ve been a follower since I started blogging in Feb. 2011 or have subscribed recently, it doesn’t matter, I just appreciate that you’ve enjoyed my work enough to sign up!

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The Best-Worst Thanksgiving Ever ~ Turkey Trot Blog Hop

Thank you all for “hopping” on over here today as part of the Turkey Trot Blog Hop.

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This year, I am most thankful that I survived LAST Thanksgiving.

Last year, Thanksgiving was more like the Fortunately, Unfortunately Game.

My day started early–very early, with the release of my first official Mail-Order Bride book: Jessie: Bride of South Carolina. 

Jessie_BrideofSouthCarolinaTired of living under her father’s iron thumb of control Jessie Wilcox decides to do the unthinkable: run away to Montana as a mail-order bride. The only obstacle in her way: the one hundred miles between her home in Williamsburg County and the train depot in Charleston.

Joel Cunningham is in utter disbelief when the girl he once loved beyond reason is on his front porch asking him to disobey her father’s wishes and drive her to Charleston. Logic and reason scream no; his lips, however, say yes.

Will the one hundred miles ahead of them be enough to overcome the five years of painful regrets or will Jessie follow her dream for a new life in Montana?

This book is ON SALE for 99 cents from now until Nov. 28, 2016

Amazon ~*~ Apple ~*~ Barnes & Noble ~*~ Google ~*~ Kobo

After getting up at 2 am, my time, midnight PST, to make sure this released without a hitch and all the formatting looked great, I went back to bed for a few hours. Got up and made all sorts of goodies for Thanksgiving including: potatoes, a relish tray–complete with sliced turkey and a delicious from-scratch pumpkin cheesecake. I had it all out on the counter (uncovered of course) and ran up to my attic to get grab something from my attic i just HAD to have. Then this happened…

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Yes, I feel through the attic. Fortunately, I was able to grab a hold of one of those beams and my legs just dangled. But still.

Then I came downstairs to find this:

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Insulation had “snowed-in” my kitchen…covering all of my freshly baked/cooked goods!!

Fortunately, I was safe. Yes, my food was ruined and yes, this was going to be a costly repair, but I didn’t fall. Had I fall from my 12′ ceiling onto either those counters or on my concrete floor, I probably wouldn’t be able to write this today. So, I am so very thankful for that.

A little stirred–okay EXTREMELY shaken up–I went to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house and as I was relaxing just enough while watching Home Alone, I started drifting to sleep, envisioning I was falling through the attic again! Good times.

After going home, I realized insulation was still snowing down (I’d cleaned it all up before I left) so I decided to go get my drill and a ladder to screw the ceiling back together. (No worries, I didn’t fall from the ladder–thank goodness.)

For whatever reason, last time I went to my climate controlled storage unit, I was working on some project and left my drill there. So I hopped in the car and drove over and my code wouldn’t work to get past the security gate. I tried the code over and over and over and finally I called the number on the keypad. Thinking I was about to get in, I was in for a rude awakening when the lady on the other end of the line said “You didn’t make your last payment.”

“Impossible!” I scoffed. “My debit card is attached and you guys–like clockwork–suck my payment straight from my bank account.”

“Well, it didn’t happen this time. You don’t pay, you don’t enter.”

Just then I remembered…A few weeks before I had to get a new debit card because someone had stolen my number and was trying to create dating profiles for a dating site somewhere in Africa… So, no, indeed, I hadn’t paid and though I offered to write her a check for double what I owed if she’d come let me in, she was unwilling to leave her family and drive those two miles to come let me in. (I bet she was really down at Wal-Mart waiting in line to get it for Black Friday sales! Just a theory.)

And at that moment, I had the oddest sensation: burning eyes and moisture on my cheeks! I’m not a cryer, but I was just then. It was like the flood gates opened.

However, in retrospect, I am so thankful all of this happened because I had no idea I had missed that payment and as it turned out, if I had reached Dec. 5th without payment, they’d have auctioned off my storage unit which was full of all of my swag, books, costumes, props for trade tables, and all other sorts of “Rose” things. Things that aren’t easily replaceable. Nobody would want them, but I wouldn’t want to not have them.

So in a way, it was the best-worst Thanksgiving ever and I want to thank all of my loyal readers for always being there for me. The ones who who have read this story before and the ones who sent me good vibes and thoughts.

Okay, okay, enough emotion, please leave a comment below telling all of us about a time when something great came from something you thought was so horrible to be entered to win a copy of Jessie: Bride of South Carolina.

Then please click the following graphic to go hop on down the list. Please remember, the more blogs you visit and comment on, the more chances you’ll have to be entered into the grand prize drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. 

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Election Day Tomorrow! Escape the chaos and vote for your favorite Rose Gordon Hero–

Election Day is tomorrow! Escape the chaos and vote for your favorite Rose Gordon Hero–

Online of course, not really on your ballot.

So in the spirit of “I cannot handle anymore political turmoil and arguing”, I will be hosting my own list of measures to vote on up on Facebook tomorrow. I am not holding a totally fair vote because I don’t plan to post all the questions here tonight–you’ll have to visit my Facebook Page to vote on all the measures. (And of course there will be plenty of prizes to go around.)

The big question, however, is…Who at the end of the night will be crowned the most beloved Rose Gordon. This hero will get special privileges (don’t they all already??) for the next four years and of course be crowned the King of Rose Gordon’s Heroes at the end of the night.

Now of course with so many candidates, it’s only right to hold a small debate so without further ado, I have brought them all here to give a short speech about why THEY deserve such an honor…

[I should warn you that much like the other debates we’ve all witnessed this year, most of the candidates do NOT stay on topic and interrupt each other often…Be warned.]

Gentlemen, in three sentences, or less, could you please tell us why YOU should hold the coveted spot of Most Beloved Rose Gordon Hero for the next four years. We shall go in order of appearance, Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, we shall begin with you.

BENJAMIN COLLINS, DUKE OF GATEWAY: Pardon me, Rose, but actually I appeared before Townson. *grins wildly and folds his arms across his puffed out chest* And in his own book no less…

That will be enough of that.

ANDREW: Yes, we all remember that profound moment, you made the book start with a bang…or should I say a slap heard around the world?

Enough! You two are starting to remind me of real life too much and I do wield the power to remove you both from the running. Now, we shall begin—in the order of heroes. Andrew, you’re your first.

ANDREW—HERO FROM INTENTIONS OF THE EARL: As Rose’s first hero, I should think the honor belongs to me. Not only as the first am I the one she obviously used up her best traits and dialogue with, but I am also the one whose book has been read most, therefore I am most well known.

GATEWAY: *snorts*

shoots a sharp look at Gateway

GATEWAY: *throws hands up into the air* I’m entitled to my own opinion on that. His book might have been downloaded more, but have you seen those reviews?

No and I don’t care to. Paul, your turn.

PAUL—HERO FROM LIBERTY FOR PAUL: I was saddled with Liberty, need I say more?

*sighs* If you didn’t fall madly in love with her by the end, I’d say the honor is yours by default, but…

PAUL: *grins* All right, I think I should be the favorite because A. I got Liberty to stop reading—and quoting—books on propriety; B. I also beat her at her own game; and C. I had my clothes stolen while in the tub, D. beans—that were supposed to be my head—stabbed to an oblivion AND E. am ninety percent sure that my mother-in-law glimpsed me naked. Franky, I’m a damn shoo-in.

Ahem, well, I’m not sure what to say to that. Next?

GATEWAY—HERO FROM TO WIN HIS WAYWARD WIFE: No, Paul, I’m the shoo-in. I’ve been Rose’s most loved hero from the start.

ANDREW: Yes, I recall everyone rooting for you all during my romance with Brooke. NOT!

Boys.

GATEWAY: As I said, I’ve always been the favorite. Have any of you ever peeked in Rose’s inbox? No? It’s me the young girls write about and tell tales of their swooning and say if Arid Alex over there could fashion a time machine, they’d travel–

SIR WALLACE BENEDICT: I believe you’ve spoken more than three sentences.

*all eyes swing to Wallace who is adjusting his cravat*

GATEWAY: Sorry, chap, I was trying to stop at a prime number.

And I have a feeling you aren’t done yet… Nonetheless, you are for now. Alex?

ALEX BANKS—HERO FROM HER SUDDEN GROOM: If I was playing the pity card like Paul, I’d remind everyone I have the nickname of Arid Alex and was once betrothed to Lady Olivia. *shudders* However, I shall instead remind you all of my intellectual pursuits of a regular subscription to Prominent and Avant-Garde Horticulture, being an avid student of chess, having been entrusted to be the guardian of several young ladies…and as Gateway so nicely pointed out, if anyone was capable of creating a time machine, I’m your hero. Therefore, most beloved hero…again, I’m your hero.

GATEWAY: Are we supposed to applaud now?

ANDREW:I don’t know, but his speech is more worthy of applause than yours.

I won’t warn you two again. One more outburst and you’ll be excused from the room.

GATEWAY: Are you threatening voter fraud?

No! You’ll still be in the running, I can’t delete you from the ballot at this late date, but I will banish you from the room so you won’t be able to have another word. Now, let’s hear from Marcus.

MARCUS, LORD SINCLAIR—HERO FROM HER RELUCTANT GROOM: Hands down, I think everyone would agree I am the most honorable of all of your heroes. Even the ones who are given such an honor in their book title— *casts his grey eyes to where Sebastian, Giles and Simon, the three heroes from the Gentlemen of Honor Series, are seated* —I had a lovely young woman staying in my house unchaperoned for quite a while and not a whisper of scandal befell either of us. Nor was she in any way unmarriagable when she left.

PATRICK—HERO FROM HER SECONDHAND GROOM: *snorts* Sir Wallace might disagree with that. She wasn’t very interested in marrying him after you’d given her a lesson in male anatomy and base desires courtesy of a little book in your library.

MARCUS: I’d say all four of our wives— *gestures to Alex, Patrick, Sir Wallace and himself* —benefited in some way from Lady Bird’s Ladybird Memoir.

SIR WALLACE: *clearing his throat, and whispering* I can’t complain too much about that book, Patrick.

MARCUS: *stretches legs out in front of himself, crosses ankles* See? Emma’s gift to Edwina was the perfect apology.

ALEX: Your wife gave that…that…filth to my sister?!

GATEWAY: *cackles* Sir Wallace, you rascal! *lets out a low whistle and shakes his head* I suppose it’s true what they say, it’s always the quiet ones who are the biggest scoundrels. *stands and claps Sir Wallace on the shoulder* Since Rose is gesturing for me to get my arse out, I will go, but Sir Wallace, I’d be honored if you’d take my seat over in the Scandalous Series section. I do believe you having a naughty book has entitled you to a seat with the other debauchers. *bows* I shall take my leave now, I had no idea I was in such depraved company.

ALEX: *Scrubs hands over his face.* The image that is now in my head isn’t going away.

MARCUS: You’ll get over it. I do recall spotting a copy of it in your library. Need I remind you that you are married to my cousin?

ALEX: Point taken. Patrick, I think it’s your turn.

PATRICK “DRAKE”, LORD DRAKELY—HERO FROM HER SECONDHAND GROOM: I willingly admit that I made a few mistakes with Juliet, my heroine, but I’d like to think I redeemed myself during our trip to London. Also, if it weren’t for me, poor Simon over there would have never had his happily-ever-after. So in a way, I’m a HERO FROM two books.

ANDREW to ALEX: I think he’s been spending too much with Gateway, he’s getting a swell head.

ALEX back to ANDREW: That or with his wife and now he thinks he’s as good of a matchmaker as all those of her sex think they are.

PATRICK: I hate to tell you two weasels this, but Brooke and Caroline both think they’re some sort of skilled matchmakers, too.

All right, fellas, let’s stay on course. Sir Wallace?

SIR WALLACE BENEDICT—HERO FROM HER IMPERFECT GROOM: 1. Contrary to my book title, I am undeniably a perfectionist. 2. Unlike some of the others in this room, when scandal knocked on my door, I was ready to do the right thing. 3. Despite my love for being impeccably dressed and as proper as a straight pin as Rose put it, when love was on the line, I put my own wants aside and chased her down at all costs.

ALEX: Chased her down? No you scaled the side of my house and broke into her room.

SEBASTIAN—HERO FROM SECRETS OF A VISCOUNT: There is nothing wrong with that.

ALEX: There is when she didn’t invite him to do so.

SEBASTIAN: *face flushing, shrugs* Again, I don’t find anything wrong with it if he gets the girl in the end.

SIR WALLACE: I did. *pushes chest out* And an enlightening little treatise to boot.

ALEX: Agggghhhh.

Let’s move on to the heroes of the Brides Series. Edward?

EDWARD BANKS, LORD WATSON—HERO FROM HER CONTRACT BRIDE-: Oh? I get to enter the running, do I? I wasn’t sure if I’d get that honor since I’m the only one Rose killed off! I think that means I should forever be memorialized as the most beloved. Oh, is that too morbid? All right, I think ultimately I should be the most beloved hero because I’m the one responsible for building the stargazing gazebo that brought about at least two happily-ever-afters. If it weren’t for me being friends with the late Lord Sinclair, Alex wouldn’t have met Caroline—

ALEX: Or have been engaged to Lady Olivia.

EDWARD: Yes, as I mentioned before, I was lost in celebration that night. Believe me, there was a lot of celebrating. Joseph was finally free from having to visit Bea’s bed and the wine just kept flowing… *waves a hand through the air* Not to mention, I fixed things between Alex and Caro by reminding her that he’s a man. If it weren’t for me and Regina, Alex, Elijah, Henry and Edwina wouldn’t be here and I would have never been born and John wouldn’t have gone to America to meet his wife. And…finally, if it weren’t for me, Andrew wouldn’t have inherited such a beautiful painting.

ANDREW: Thank you. I’m still cherishing it.

JOHN BANKS—HERO FROM HIS YANKEE BRIDE: All right, Edward, we get that you’re making up for lost time of not getting any scenes in three of your four children’s books, but enough is enough. Besides, I know the true identity of that “artist”. Not to mention, you allowed your heroine to sink the Gallant

EDWARD: She looked so fetching as the boat went down, I’d have allowed her to sink a whole armada had I had one.

All right, gentlemen, we have a lot more to hear from–

EDWARD: No we don’t, I’m the most beloved. *grins* They need not even speak.

JOHN: Now who has been spending too much time with Gateway?

John, it’s you’re turn.

JOHN: As hero to Carolina I have faithfully done my duty and played countless games of charades. I stood up to her beastly parents and rescued her closest confidant. I endured being sewn into a bundling bag, being watched shamelessly on while bathing in the pond, had to bear witness to a dirty, old merkin lying in the street while eloping, and in the end, swept my girl away from her parent’s evil clutches and eventually brought her and my three daughters to London where all of Rose’s stories began.

EDWARD: You’re rather smug, aren’t you, Trouble?

JOHN: *shrugs* The boot fits.

All right you two, nearly two hundred and fifty years later and you two are squabbling like little boys.

EDWARD: We’re brother’s, that’s what we’re supposed to do.

And now, for another set of Banks Brothers—Elijah?

ELIJAH BANKS—HERO FROM HIS JILTED BRIDE: *squares shoulders and slowly looks around the room* Fellas, you can all go home. This victory is mine. You all might think you rescued your heroines, but I—*points at chest*–I did. I not only saved her from being married to a scheming, lying, reprobate who likely would have done unmentionable things to her person, but I did it by shimmying her through a church window in her wedding gown, no less. *chuckles* And no more, either.

HENRY BANKS—ELIJAH’S TWIN AND HERO FROM HIS BROTHER’S BRIDE: What Elijah neglected to mention was said man hadn’t even shown up yet. So how exactly he spared her such a life… *shakes head* Can anyone truly be certain?

ELIJAH: Right you are, Henry. I was also rescuing her from the humiliation of being jilted. I thought that was implied by the title. And just because he hadn’t shown up yet that day, didn’t mean he didn’t still have plans for her.

HENRY: That’s true, however, had you not married her and just brought her to safety, you’d have been able to fulfill an earlier promise you’d made.

ELIJAH: Oh, you mean I’d have married Laura—YOUR wife? *cocks head to the side* If what I spied in the garden is any indication, I think you ought to be thanking me.

HENRY: Indeed.

ELIJAH: My thanks?

HENRY: *stares at him* I’ll refrain from singing carols at Michaelmas this year.

ELIJAH: That’s even better.

Throws hand up. Henry, it’s your turn.

HENRY: *rubs chin* As I just mentioned I did marry the young lady Elijah had promised marriage to. And I don’t regret it. I did first try to find her another suitable husband because what else can you do when a woman you barely knows shows up on your front door stoop and demands marriage? If rescuing heroines is the key to winning, I should say that I rescued mine from herself when she was spitting out phrases in French that she didn’t know the meaning of. And finally, I do believe, I exercised perfect self-control in the carriage while taking my—not my brother’s *scowls*—bride to Scotland.

ELIJAH: And on the way back?

HENRY: Is none of your damn business.

EDWARD: That’s my boy.

JOHN: Only you would be proud.

EDWARD: Had your wife produced a boy, you’d understand. As it is your girls—

JOHN: Are the most scandalous sisters to ever step foot in London, yes, I know.

EDWARD: I was going ot say saints, but your definition works, too.

All right, we need to–

GATEWAY: *pokes his head in the room* Are you hens still clucking? You all know I won this competition before it even started.

ANDREW: Only if you’ve been out there rigging the votes… *arches eyebrow*

MARCUS: Besides, I think you’d do well to spend a little more time around Alex and allow him to explain to you the difference between hens and roosters.

GATEWAY: I can borrow Sir Wallace’s naughty book for that, I’m sure.

Gateway, come join us again. Apparently, without you making inane and unsolicited comments everyone else feels they need to.

GATEWAY–*lumbers in and falls into a vacant chair* Ah, to be the scapegoat.

Now, let’s switch gears and hear from our American heroes—Wes, are you ready?

CAPTAIN WES TUCKER—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE BOSTONER: About as ready as I was for a spirited and slightly angry young lady to come parading into my life, throwing rocks and making impossible demands.

2ND LIEUTENANT JACK—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE SOUTHERNER: Sounds to me like you’re complaining.

CAPTAIN GRAY—HERO FROM THE OFFICER AND THE TRAVELER: Which you certainly weren’t doing when she came. I do believe you went around whistling a merry little tune as you packed your things and strutted up to your new bedchamber in the married officers wing of the barracks.

WES: Indeed I was. But keep in mind, I managed to keep Allison safe from harm of the other men and from herself with a sewing needle. I used her excellent throw to all of our advantage and taught her how to swing a bat—she can now best even the best in rounders.

JACK: Yes, that all sounds so exciting, lest we forget your book isn’t a shoot’em up.

GRAY: No, that was saved for your book. Would you care to share with everyone just exactly what went on at the shooting range that day?

JACK: That was a private moment between Ella and me.

*laughter from around the room.*

EDWARD: Good for you, young man.

Jack, why should you be most beloved hero?

JACK: I certainly went through some of the worst—sent off for a mail-order bride and received a young lady who was angry with me from the start. *face reddens* For which I do take full responsibility. Nearly lost my heroine to a spider. Had to ride a horse with a man who wore little more than an eyepatch over his…unmentionables, sat in the tent of a naked and half-crazed medicine man—and that was only the first half of my tale. As Gray mentioned, I taught my girl how to shoot…*face turns crimson and coughing ensues* and gave her another sort of education as well.

GRAY: *voice dripping with sarcasm* And now, I’ll never be able to shoot at the range again without that thought. Thank you.

JACK: *grins* You’re welcome.

GATEWAY: Would you like me to ruin a few places in England for you?

EVERYONE: NO!

GATEWAY: *chuckles* Pray continue.

Gray, you’re turn.

GRAY: I do believe I am the most beloved. I had a rekindled romance with a woman I was once forbidden to talk to and because I kissed her–

JACK: Should you remind everyone why you were kissing her?

GRAY: *ignoring Jack, continues*–we were married and I inherited a dragon for a father-in-law.

JACK: *snorts* I have the same father-in-law!

WES: Yes, and thanks to the two of you, he’s now the general at our fort.

JACK: It’s not my fault. I didn’t know Ella’s father was a grumpy old general when I started writing to her. Hell, even Gray didn’t recognize Ella when she first came.

GRAY: And if I had, would you have sent her back?

JACK: Well, no.

GRAY: Then it seems you should stop your complaining about the old dragon.

WES: And you should, too. You both chose to be connected to him. I did not.

GRAY: As I said, if Jack had known any more about Ella’s identity it could have been avoided.

WES: Yes, but then you wouldn’t have had your wife.

GRAY: No, I wouldn’t have–*eyes crinkle and a broad grin takes his lips* and dealing with her cantankerous father is a small price to pay to have her.

Gray, is that all you have to say?

GRAY: No, I have plenty to say if these two would shut up for two minutes. I married a woman who had no reservations in her dislike for me. As has been mentioned, her father didn’t like me either. But even so, she managed to win me over and I daresay, I won both of them over, too.

JACK: That’s the best you could come up with?

GRAY: Yep, I’m Michaela’s all-time favorite hero. I don’t need to be anyone else’s.

*silence fills the room…until broken by none other than GATEWAY* Ah, spoken like a men letting his privates doing the thinking for him—and not the hundred men you command.

GRAY: *shrugs* Her opinion is the only one I value.

That’s very sweet, so then should we stop this competition now and let you all get back to your respective heroines?

SEBASTIAN GENTRY, LORD BELGRAVE—HERO FROM SECRETS OF A VISCOUNT: Hell no. I did not break into the wrong sister’s bedroom and hie my worst nightmare off to Scotland, marry her, lie to her, diligently try to find her another husband while secretly longing for her and praying she wouldn’t wind up with Stoic Simon just to give up now. I love Belle more than life itself, but by golly, I’m the most beloved hero—I’ve even won an award.

Your book isn’t the only one to be nominated for an award, Sebastian, (gracious this man needs to be taken down a peg), Patrick, Edward and John have been finalists, too.

SEBASTIAN: Ah, but they all came in second. I won. And a reader’s choice, nomination style entry no less.

EDWARD: Not true. I won some something or other once, too.

SEBASTIAN: Nobody seems to remember that. Not even the contest officials when it was time to publicly reveal the winners. But me? Oh, they made up this huge poster of my book. The thing was so big, Rose couldn’t get it back home from the conference. A local friend—and saint—kept it at her house for almost two and a half years until a mutual friend happened to be driving across the US and brought it to Rose. See, it’s right here!

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Exhibit A

GATEWAY: I think I’ve found my match for most conceited.

SEBASTIAN: Exactly, the Gateway Era is over and the Sebastian Era has begun.

SIMON APPLETON—HERO FROM PASSIONS OF A GENTLEMAN: I still can’t believe Isabelle chose this for herself.

HENRY: Ha, if awards were given out for which hero made Rose bang her head against the desk most while writing their book, Elijah would win handidly.

SEBASTIAN: And Simon would win for most re-starts.

JACK: Gray would be a close second for that one.

Hey now! Stop airing MY dirty laundry. Giles, are you ready?

GILES GODDARD—HERO FROM DESIRES OF A BARON: I don’t need this award. I married Lucy a woman who loves me no matter what I say and do. With Lucy came Seth. The boy asks me uncomfortable questions about the origins of babies, when unsightly hair will appear, and now calls me Papa. I already have my reward.

SIMON: And don’t forget a brother.

GILES: How could I? You’re the reason I was questioned about the appearance of body hair.

SIMON: And the reason you met Lucy.

GILES: Yes, it was because of you we met, but you certainly didn’t have any intentions of backing down.

SIMON: I’d met her first.

GILES: And it was obvious that she didn’t return your interest. At least it was obvious when I read the book—living it was a different matter.

All right—again, more bickering brothers! Simon, you’ll have your turn in a bit–

SIMON: Of course I will. I already had to wait two years to get my book, why not wait longer to have my turn to speak.

In order of heroes, I think Gareth is next.

GARETH, LORD WORTHE—HERO FROM THE PERFECT LADY WORTHE: As many of the others have said, I already feel like I’ve won because I was blessed to have such a wonderful heroine to spend the rest of this life with. But…since Rose is twisting our arms for these speeches, I will say that I am indeed gentlemanly and clever. I was the HERO FROM her first novella who apparently knows exactly how much is in my bank account and takes abbreviated naps throughout the day. Not to mention, I married my best friend’s younger sister against his wishes, that’s pretty damn brazen and heroic, if you ask me.

GATEWAY: Twisted your arm? Hmmph.

Aaron, your turn.

AARON LENTZ, HERO FROM MISTLETOE & MICHAELMAS: I had to endure a Christmastide stay with the straightforward Duke of Danby. The man is so obsessed with matchmaking, I went to his house as part of my duty as a vicar and less than a fortnight later I was in need of one myself. Also, for the record, it should be mentioned, my name wasn’t always Aaron. I was given that name the afternoon the book was submitted because another story in the anthology had a hero with the same name. How is that for enduring?

JOHN: I wondered how you ended up with what was originally my name.

I confess, I confess! Aaron is telling the truth. His name was different when I wrote the book and I had to change it. John is also correct—his name originally was Aaron. But when I was typing Aaron, my fingers were moving so fast I’d capitalize both As. Plus, Intentions of the Earl didn’t need anyone else with an “A” name. Now, let’s move onto our next hero: Joel.

JOEL CUNNINGHAM—HERO FROM JESSE: BRIDE OF SOUTH CAROLINA: What can I say? I was commissioned to bring the girl I’d once loved more than life itself one hundred miles in my wagon to a train depot so she could go off to the wilds of Montana and marry Mr. Perfect—which couldn’t have been too perfect or he wouldn’t have submitted an ad for a mail-order bride. I kept my hands to myself—most of the time, my trousers buttoned up—a blasted hard thing to do at times and reined in my sarcasm–

No you did not!

JOEL: And no you did not have this book done by Oct. 26, 2015 like you were supposed and yet you still told everyone you had. If I remember right you were only 1,000 words in.

What has that to do with anything?

JOEL: Nothing, other than I was the perfect hero to write about. If I hadn’t been so easy to write about you wouldn’t have gotten this book done in under a week.

GATEWAY: Dang! Here I thought my book was the fastest at ten days.

JOEL: No, mine took less time but after meeting you today, I see why yours took so long. You’re a fountain of fodder.

GATEWAY: Thank you. I enjoy being complimented.

JOEL: Yes, and so does my wife. Who, I’ll have you all know I managed to win over on that trip despite fear of her father catching us, being robbed, having to sleep outside, meeting a deranged man who loves his junk more than Andrew and Gateway hate each other and more sarcastic remarks than have been shared here today.

You are correct, Joel. On all scores. James?

JAMES NORTH, EARL OF WYNN—HERO FROM THE WOOING GAME: I daresay this award is in the bag for me. Charlotte and I had a nasty first start. Blooming humiliating all the way around if I dare say. However, I managed to win her—even woo her—and all by sending her anonymous letters of admiration, a feat not even the notorious Banks men—or heroes of the Banks women–could pull off.

GARETH: The first missive you sent her, wasn’t so anonymous….or charming.

JAMES: Shhh! I made a mistake. You’ve made one I’m sure.

GARETH: Never.

SIMON: Is it my turn yet? Have I waited long enough?

Yes, Simon, you can go now.

SEBASTIAN: I don’t know why you’re bothering to, I’m sure everyone has already decided.

GATEWAY: Yes, they only needed to hear the first three.

ANDREW: Nope. Just the first one.

SIMON: Well, aren’t you both rather cocksure? Haven’t you ever heard of “saving the best for last”? My book was “in the works” for two blasted YEARS. Rose received emails inquiring when it was coming out. People asking why they couldn’t find it. She even received a very nasty email about tying her to a chair and making her write it. I daresay, if the emails are to be believed, I would consider this contest already over. Name me the winner and hand me my crown.

SEBASTIAN: Just because they asked about you and demanded she write your book doesn’t mean they liked it. Heck, if sales reports are any indication, I’d honestly say your book is the least read book Rose has written!

SIMON: That’s because everyone read your book and hated you so much they didn’t want to risk reading the others in the series for fear of encountering you again.

SEBASTIAN: Again, may I point your direction to Exhibit A?

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All righty then, I think we’re done.

GATEWAY: No closing remarks?

No, you’ve all said more than enough already. All right ladies, you’ve heard what they have to say and tomorrow—on National Election Day—you can cast your vote for your favorite Rose Gordon Hero on Facebook. Please read over this as many times as you feel are necessary and share with your friends who might like to vote.

From just outside the window of my living room where everyone had gathered…GABRIEL ELLIS—FUTURE HERO FROM HIS PENNILESS BRIDE: Damn. She’s been receiving emails about the whereabouts of my story for four years—that’s before more than half of these fellas were heroes—I now have another four years to get my story, read all of their books to dig up the most gossip and I’ll be an easy win next go-around.

Ah, Gabriel, you forget…since your story hasn’t yet been written, you could be the most scandalous of them all!

GABRIEL: Marjorie! Let’s run away. Now!